Esports — a glossary of industry terms

24 November 2023

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Esports glossary and vocabulary
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Esports vernacular is full of niche in-jokes, weird references, meme culture, game-specific jargon and a web of never-ending acronyms. As a young and quickly evolving space, terminology in esports is also in constant flux.

Even to long-time esports fans, navigating the shorthands, terms and acronyms specific to certain scenes or genres can be confusing. We’ve compiled an alphabetical list of common terms in esports to help you navigate your way through the rich and labyrinthine world of esports nomenclature.

ESI Next Gen 2024 Oxford

General terminology

  • Bootcamp
    • Meaning: A training session where a team practices together in person, usually before a major tournament. Teams will often bootcamp together in or near the location of an upcoming tournament before the event starts.
  • Caster
    • Also called: shoutcaster; commentator
    • Meaning: Commentator. A person that describes, comments on and analyses events live during the broadcast of an esports match.
  • Esports
    • Also called: e-sports; eSports; e-Sports
    • Meaning: Organised competitive video game tournaments.
  • Esports organisation
    • Also called: org; esports org; organisations
    • Meaning: A company which signs teams to represent it in esports tournaments. Esports organisations often field multiple teams in different esports titles. Sometimes used interchangeably with ‘team’, even though not all teams represent an esports organisation.
  • Esports team
    • Also called: team
    • Meaning: A group of players that consistently compete together under a defined identity. Sometimes used interchangeably with ‘roster’.
  • Esports title
    • Also called: video game; game; esports game
    • Meaning: A competitive video game that has an esports scene. Competitive video games are games that feature some form of player versus player competition. ‘Esports title’ is usually used in reference to competitive games which have established esports scenes, rather than any competitive game.
  • Hacking
    • Also called: cheating
    • Meaning: Modifying a game using external software to secure an unfair advantage over other players.
  • Livestream
    • Meaning: A broadcast that is aired live through an online streaming service. Commonly used platforms include Twitch and YouTube Live.
  • Map
    • Meaning: A specific video game level or environment on which an esport competition takes place. Maps differ greatly between video games. In some esports titles, also used to refer to a specific game within a tournament series, e.g. Map 1 of 3 in a Counter-Strike series is the first game in a best-of-three series.
  • Mobile esports
    • Meaning: Organised competitive tournaments in mobile video games (i.e. games designed for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets).
  • Roster
    • Meaning: The specific group of players that together comprise a team. Sometimes used interchangeably with ‘team’. 
  • Round
    • Meaning: A short, repeatable scenario where teams compete to complete an objective. Commonly used in FPS games. Roughly analogous to a rally in traditional sports. A match is made up of a set number of rounds, and one team wins the match after reaching that number of rounds.
  • Scrims
    • Meaning: Practice matches played between teams, usually played off-screen and the results kept private. Often played between opponents that regularly meet each other in official tournaments.
  • Series
    • Meaning: A set of games, or maps, played between the same teams. Often expressed in the ‘best of’ format, e.g. a ‘best of five’ (BO5) series is won by the first team to win a majority (in this case three) games/maps.
  • Showmatch
    • Meaning: A friendly esports match or series played between teams not part of any specific tournament or the game’s official competitive season.
IEM Katowice 2023
Image credit: Adela Sznajder / ESL Gaming

Common esports video game genres

  • Battle Royale (BR)
    • Meaning: A video game genre where a large number of players or teams compete against each other to be the final player or team standing within a defined arena.
  • Fighting games
    • Also called: Fighting Game Community; FGC
    • Meaning: A video game genre involving brawl-style fighting mechanics, often 2D and featuring hand-to-hand combat. FGC is a catch-all term for the community surrounding fighting games.
  • First Person Shooter (FPS)
    • Also called: shooter
    • Meaning: A video game genre where players use guns and control a character in the first person. This is in contrast to games that use the third person perspective.
  • Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA)
    • Meaning: A video game genre where teams of players control characters with unique abilities and compete to be the first to complete objectives within a defined arena.
  • Race to World First (RWF)
    • A competition in which teams of players race to be the first to complete a piece of in-game PvE content; usually in World of Warcraft.
  • Real-time Strategy (RTS)
    • Meaning: A video game genre where players compete to control areas on a map, create structures and destroy opponents’ structures.
  • Shooter
    • Meaning: A video game genre defined by the use of guns and/or shooting mechanics. ‘Hero shooter’ is a popular sub-genre that involves the use of characters with unique ‘abilities’ alongside the use of gunplay.
  • Simulation racing
    • Also called: sim racing
    • Meaning: A video game genre where players participate in simulated versions of real-life automobile racing, often based on real-life cars and tracks.
  • Speedrunning
    • Meaning: A form of competition where players race to complete a video game or specific in-game objective in the quickest time possible.
  • Sports simulation
    • Also called: sports sim
    • Meaning: A video game genre where players participate in a simulated version of a recognisable real-life sport, such as football (EA Sports FC) or basketball (NBA 2K).
Riot Games VALORANT event
Image credit: Riot Games

Common esports video game titles

  • Apex Legends
    • Also called: Apex
    • Meaning: A Battle Royale video game where 20 teams of three players control characters with specific abilities (Legends), collect resources and weapons, and compete to become the last team standing within a defined arena. Published by Electronic Arts.
  • Call of Duty (CoD)
    • Meaning: An FPS video game franchise. In an esports context, Call of Duty refers to competitive game modes where players compete to complete objectives, such as control-the-point or Search & Destroy. Published by Activision Blizzard.
  • Counter-Strike 2 (CS2)
    • Also called: Counter-Strike; CS
    • Meaning: An FPS video game where two teams of five players alternate between defending and attacking designated areas on a map. Previously called CS:GO before an update in September 2023. Published by Valve.
  • Dota 2
    • Also called: Dota; Defense of the Ancients
    • Meaning: A MOBA video game where players choose in-game characters with unique abilities (Heroes) and compete to defend their own base (Ancient) from the opposition. Published by Valve.
  • EA Sports FC
    • Also called: EA FC; FC; FIFA
    • Meaning: A sports simulation video game where two individuals compete by controlling in-game players in a virtual match of association football (soccer). 2v2 gamemode also exists. Previously known as FIFA before EA and FIFA ended their naming rights partnership. Published by Electronic Arts (EA).
  • Fighting Game Community (FGC)
    • Meaning: Used to refer to a variety of games (and their communities) in the fighting game genre, characterised by brawl-style hand-to-hand fighting mechanics. Popular examples include the Street Fighter (published by Capcom), Tekken (Bandai Namco Entertainment) and Smash Bros. (Nintendo) franchises.
  • Fortnite
    • Meaning: A Battle Royale video game where 100 players, either as individuals or teams of two, collect resources and weapons and compete to be the last player or team standing within a defined arena. Published by Epic Games.
  • Free Fire (FF)
    • Meaning: A mobile Battle Royale video game where 12 teams of four players choose characters with unique abilities and compete to be the last team standing within a defined arena. Published by Garena.
  • Honor of Kings / Arena of Valor
    • Also called: HoK; AoV; King of Glory; Strike of Kings 
    • Meaning: A mobile MOBA video game where two teams of five players choose in-game characters with unique abilities (Heroes) and compete to defend their base from the opposition.

      Arena of Valor is the international version of Honour of Kings, which is exclusive to China; the two versions feature different in-game characters, which affects gameplay. Published by Tencent Games (Honor of Kings), Level Infinite (Arena of Valor).
  • League of Legends (LoL)
    • Also called: League; lol
    • Meaning: A MOBA video game where players choose in-game characters with unique abilities (Champions) and compete to defend their base (Nexus) from the opposition. Published by Riot Games.
  • Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB)
    • Also called: Mobile Legends; ML:BB
    • Meaning: A mobile MOBA video game where two teams of five players choose in-game characters with specific abilities (Heroes) and compete to defend their base from the opposition. Published by Moonton.
  • NBA 2K
    • Also called: 2K
    • Meaning: A sports simulation video game where players, as individuals or teams, compete by controlling in-game players in a virtual match of basketball. Published by 2K Games. 
  • Overwatch 2 (OW2)
    • Also called: Overwatch; OW
    • Meaning: A hero shooter FPS video game where two teams of five players use a combination of characters with specific abilities (Heroes), guns and other combat mechanics to complete objectives, such as capture-the-point. Previously 6v6 before Overwatch 2 released in October 2022. Published by Activision Blizzard.
  • PUBG
    • Also called: PUBG: Battlegrounds; Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds
    • Meaning: A Battle Royale video game where up to 100 players in teams of four compete to be the last team standing within a defined arena. Published by KRAFTON.

      PUBG Mobile (PUBGM) is a version of PUBG played on mobile devices, with its own separate esports scene. Published in various jurisdictions by Tencent Games, Krafton and VNG Games.
  • Rainbow Six Siege (R6)
    • Also called: Siege, R6 Siege, R6; Rainbow Six
    • Meaning: An FPS video game where two teams of five players compete to complete objectives such as hostage rescue or bomb defusal. Published by Ubisoft.
  • Rocket League (RL)
    • Meaning: A sport-action video game where two teams of three players control flyable cars and compete by attempting to score a football into the opponents’ goal. The game also features 1v1 and 2v2 gamemodes which have smaller esports followings. Published by Psyonix (owned by Epic Games).
  • StarCraft II
    • Also called: StarCraft; SC2
    • Meaning: A competitive RTS video game where two players compete to control areas on a map, create structures by acquiring resources, and destroy opponents’ structures. Published by Activision Blizzard.
  • VALORANT (VLR)
    • Meaning: A hero shooter FPS video game where two teams of five players, each with specific abilities (Agents), alternate between defending and attacking designated areas on a map. Published by Riot Games.
  • World of Warcraft (WoW)
    • Also called: Warcraft
    • Meaning: An online MMORPG video game. In an esports context, World of Warcraft refers either to Race to World First (see glossary entry) or to Arenas, a gamemode where teams of two or three players compete to eliminate the other team using characters with specific abilities.
Esports vocabulary
Image via: Shutterstock

Common esports acronyms/initialisms

  • GG
    • Meaning: Good Game. Common sportsmanship gesture exchanged at the end of a game. Sometimes used sarcastically.
  • GLHF
    • Meaning: Good Luck Have Fun. Common sportsmanship gesture exchanged before a game.
  • GOAT
    • Also called: 🐐
    • Meaning: Greatest of All Time. Used to infer that someone, usually a professional player, is uniquely talented.
  • KDA
    • Meaning: Kill Death Assist. The number of kills, deaths and assists (partial kills) a player achieves during a match. Used to gauge performance in a match.
  • KDR
    • Meaning: Kill Death Ratio. The number of opponents a player kills compared to the number of times they’ve died to opponents. Used to gauge performance in a match.
  • MMR
    • Meaning: Matchmaking Rank. A rank given to players based on their position in a competitive video game’s online matchmaking ladder. 
  • PvE
    • Meaning: Player versus Environment. A form of competition within video games where human players compete against non-human i.e. computer-controlled characters.
  • PvP
    • Meaning: Player versus Player. A form of competition within video games where human players compete against other human players.
  • RNG
    • Meaning: Random Number Generation. Used to refer to game mechanics that use built-in randomness, and thus involve a degree of luck. 
Jake Nordland
Jake is Esports Insider's Features and Trending News Editor. Part of the ESI team since early 2021, he's interested in politics, education and sustainability in esports.

This is a preliminary list that may be updated with additional vocabulary over time.